Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Richard Lloyd Jones House “Westhope” (1929)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

Richard Lloyd Jones House

3700 South Birmingham Avenue, Tulsa, OK

Aerial View and Map

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From my Archives, Photos taken October 19, 2004 and November 14, 2008

I am taking the time to go through my archives and posting some of the buildings I have visited prior starting this blog. While some of the photographs are taken with early low-resolution digital cameras, hopefully they capture the general feeling of the buildings…prompting a visit of your own.

This Frank Lloyd Wright house I always thought was a little odd based on the published photos and floor plans in the multiple books surveying Wright’s work. It is a large house (over 10,000 sq. ft.) and wraps around a courtyard with a swimming pool. Built on a corner lot, the house it very visible from the street on two sides. Richard Lloud Jones was Frank Lloyd Wright’s cousin and publisher of the Tulsa Tribune.

The scale of the house  is very deceptive due to the block and window configuration. There is no clear reference for height and floor separation. The photos published in the book  “In the Nature of Materials” ( by Hitchcock 1942, images 297-302 ) were my main reference prior to my visit. The black and white photos taken just after construction (prior to any landscaping) show a stark, brutalist, severe composition. In reality, the house is warm,  interesting, and with the mature landscaping actually fits into the traditional neighborhood better than expected.

As has happened frequently while walking around photographing Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, an occasional neighbor will come out and start sharing their antidotes and experiences with Wright. In this case, an elderly neighbor followed me around and told me that when the house was built there were no trees at all on the lot (as can be confirmed in the Hitchcock book). He said that Wright stood on the porch of the house and had a sack of potatoes. He  took a handfull of potatoes and tossed them into the front yard and told the owner to plant tress where the potatoes landed. The mature trees in the front yard he told me as he pointed to each of them one by one, were planted exactly where the pototoes landed. Wright seems to attract all sorts of stories that are repeated at many of his buildings. Most of them relate to leaking roofs, this was the first time I heard one relating to potatoes.

The blocks form piers, with the glass set back from the face of the block. You can see “through” the house to the courtyard beyond in many cases. The house really feels like an arrangement of piers with a roof,  rather than a wall with windows. The all glass compositions at the ends of the wings (referenced as aviaries in one plan I recall) add a lightness to the otherwise heavy, closely spaced piers.

Tulsa Preservation Commission Webpage on House

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